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Union Budget: Push for highways sector, NHAI allocation up

IN KEEPING with the infrastructure push, the government has increased the outlay for the highways sector to Rs 2.70 lakh crore, up by about Rs 70,000 crore.

The allocation to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been increased to Rs 1.62 lakh crore for 2023-24, up from last year’s revised allocation of Rs 1.42 lakh crore.

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Giving a financial push to scrap old, polluting vehicles owned by the government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she has allocated adequate funds to scrap old vehicles owned by the central government, and states will also be supported in replacing old vehicles and ambulances.

Recently, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had notified that starting April 1, government vehicles — of the Centre, states, PSUs and autonomous bodies — would be scrapped if they had completed 15 years.

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Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had said an estimated 9 lakh vehicles, owned by central and state governments, transport corporations and public sector undertakings, would go off the road from April 1.

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Sitharaman said 100 critical transport infrastructure projects for first- and last-mile connectivity for coal, fertiliser and foodgrain sectors have been identified and would be taken up on priority basis, with investment of Rs 75,000 crore, including Rs 15,000 crore from private sources.

Among the marquee projects, the 1,350-km DelhiMumbai Expressway, with an estimated cost of about Rs 1 lakh crore, will be commissioned in phases this year. The 210-km Delhi-Dehradun Expressway is also under construction and will start getting commissioned in 2024. The Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, spanning 670 km, is also a signature project of the government with an estimated cost of about Rs 35,000 crore.

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Sitharaman also said that coastal shipping will be promoted as the energy efficient and lower cost mode of transport, both for passengers and freight, through PPP mode with viability gap funding.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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